Chapter 65 – Does Online Popularity Translate into the Real World?
by Leesa Dean
Hmmmm. This week a few big YouTube and Vine personalities failed spectacularly as live-streamed red carpet hosts of the Daytime Emmys. I watched videos of it and their “hosting” skills were embarrassing. They made dumb, seriously distasteful racist and rape jokes, admitted on camera that they never heard of any of the people they were interviewing (who were nominated for awards) although they had time to prep, told awful stale jokes mostly mugged for the camera and, just in general, sucked the big one. Worse, a number of them tweeted after and were bitter, unapologetic and unprofessional. One of them even wrote: “Your opinion < my dog’s left nut.” Way to be classy!
Apparently, a few weeks before the ceremony the NATAS (the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) issued a casting call for social media mavens to host and, specifically, the organizers wanted millennials between the ages of 18-35 who have a very strong social media following (300,000 followers minimum). The organizers, stupidly, thought, a big social media following will translate into more viewers and publicity.
Boy were they wrong.
One of the hosts, Brittany Furlong is one of the biggest stars there is on Vine, with a following of over 6.5 million people. She puts out a new Vine every day and it would be really easy to say she’s awful and not funny and not talented and just puts out dreck that tweens tend to love.
But it’s not true–at least for my tastes…mostly.
I think her Vines are mostly really good for that arena. It’s incredibly tough to come up with fresh stuff every single day. I gives her serious props for that and for keeping it fresh.
But some of her material is in extremely bad taste and racist/borderline racist. She considers those “politically incorrect”. That they are, but…they’re also racist. To me, they’re cringe-worthy/offensive. Most of those are done as mashups with another huge Vine star (with a following of nearly 5 million people), who’s black. When I looked at his Vines, many were similar and offensive/borderline offensive (using old racist tropes: black people rolling their eyes, stealing and eating fried chicken and watermelon, etc).
To be fair, Furlan also routinely uses a ton of people of color in her videos in ways that aren’t racist and those account for, maybe, 90% of her material. Yes, it’s mostly lowest common denominator stuff but that really works in that arena (the tween market.) And she does it very well. Let’s face it, she didn’t get 6.5 million fans for nothing.
Given all of those factors, I’m hoping that with all this new attention, she’ll cut out the racist and borderline racist material. I doubt she will. I don’t think she considers it racist. Just low-brow humor. I guess time will tell. She’s stated she wants to move in to the tv arena. Her agents might advise her to change.
So why did she, and the other hosts, fail? As far as I’m concerned, the same reason most web series don’t get the same type of audience vloggers do.
It’s a different animal and most of the time, those skills aren’t transferable. The audience has different expectations. Vlogging is disposable. Even something as seemingly transient as red carpet hosting, ultimately is not. There’s a totally different skillset involved with acting, hosting and being a comedian. You don’t need any of those to be a great vlogger.
So the hosts that were hired to do the red carpet live-stream probably thought, well, I’m hired to do my thing, which is very politically incorrect, so there shouldn’t be a problem. But when your audience is older than 15, uh, in general that kinda material is NOT gonna fly on live tv.
Will this ever change? Who knows. For the immediate future, in terms of moving into real tv, I can’t see most vloggers doing more than playing themselves on tv game shows, reality shows or bad sitcoms. It remains to be scene if they really can act. After all, taking selfies and mugging for the camera do not make you real marketable “talent.”